The US women’s team, who arrived in Mexico this week with two goals, has already achieved the first: After a lopsided victory over Jamaica on Thursday night, the United States secured a spot at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The 5-0 victory came in the second game of the Americans in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, which serves as a regional championship, as well as a qualifying tournament for the Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. USA defeated Haiti 3-0in their opening game on Monday.
Under the format of the revamped eight-team regional tournament, officially the Concacaf W Championship, the top two finishers in each group of four teams automatically qualify for the Women’s World Championship, where the United States is the two-time defending champions.
The United States guaranteed they would be one of the best finishers with a dominant game against Jamaica, with Sophia Smith scoring twice in the first eight minutes and Rose Lavelle, Christy Mewis and Trinity Rodman adding goals in the second half as the trailing Jamaicans gave way. US depth onslaught and scoring chances.
However, the Americans’ place in the World Cup was only secured a few hours later when Haiti beat host Mexico in the second game of the evening. This result guaranteed the United States second place in the first round group and a spot in the expanded 32-team World Championship in Australia and New Zealand the following summer.
The United States became the 12th country to qualify, joining the co-hosts, along with South Korea, Japan, China, the Philippines and Vietnam from Asia; and Sweden, France, Denmark and Spain from Europe.
Canada, the reigning women’s Olympic champion and America’s main rival in the region, is expected to join the group on Friday when it plays Panama in the second leg of the tournament. But the tournament’s biggest story may be Haiti: a 3-0 victory over Mexico means it only needs to draw with Jamaica in the final group match to secure its first World Cup berth.
In the meantime, the next goal for the United States will be a spot in the Paris Olympics. Only the winner of the Koncacafe tournament will receive a direct seat in this tournament, although there will be a lifeline for the second and third placed countries through the Koncacafe Olympics playoffs in September 2023.
US coach Vlatko Andonovski is leading the team through the transition as he paves the way for both tournaments. The team he brought to Mexico is a mixture of World Cup veterans like Lavelle, Lindsey Horan and Becky Sauerbrunn and new faces like Smith, whose two goals have given them seven goals this year, the most for a player. from USA; defenseman Naomi Girma, who assisted Smith on the first goal in only her third game for the United States; and Rodman, daughter of former NBA star Dennis Rodman.
This variety of options made the team a glimpse of the future of a champion team that still includes veterans such as Megan Rapino and Alex Morgan. Thirteen members of the Andonowski team compete in their first World Cup or Olympic qualifying tournament for the team, and eight entered the tournament with fewer than 10 international appearances.
Smith showed a hint of promise in his possession in the opening minutes. During her first goal, she made a long pass from the right, on the run she lifted the ball over the head of the defender to cut the ball, and then with her right foot she shot past the Jamaican goalkeeper.
Her second came a few minutes later, and after a similar dribble from the right, and was completed just as deftly: with first touch flip over the goalkeeper, which was confirmed after a brief video review.
Two more first-half goals – Ashley Hatch in the 11th minute and Mallory Pugh in the 27th – were erased by video review, which is used for the first time this year in the women’s championship.
However, the result was not in doubt. An unmarked Lavelle scored from the back post in the 59th minute to make it 3–0; Christy Mewis converted a penalty after being knocked down by Midge Purse in the 82nd minute; and four minutes later, Rodman crossed Pugh, scoring her second international goal.